JOE FIORILL January 31, 2001, Wednesday, Region Edition Copyright 2001 P.G. Publishing Co. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette January 31, 2001, Wednesday, Region Edition
(FOREST HILLS, Penn.) --A beefed-up Forest Hills Police Department has launched its first peer study since 1992.
Borough Manager Steve Morus said the study, which involves a chief from another department reviewing the operation in Forest Hills, is routine:
"We did one 10 years ago: Are we doing anything better?" Morus said.
In 1992, then-Mayor Elmer Incheck and council initiated the study as part of the state's Peer-to-Peer program, to address disciplinary problems on the force at the time.
This year, West Deer Township police Chief Charles M. "Marty" Fleischer is carrying out the study funded through the state Department of Community and Economic Development. The study is aimed at "trying to get better and trying to improve service," Morus said. "We don't have any serious internal problems that I know of."
Police Chief William Fabrizi echoed Morus' comments. As to what areas Fleischer's recommendations will address, "We'll find out when the study's over," Fabrizi said.
One conclusion of the 1992 study was that the borough should explore establishing a regional police force with Chalfant, Wilkins, Churchill and Braddock Hills, communities that used to have all of their dispatching handled through Forest Hills. Chalfant purchased police coverage from Forest Hills for two years, but no other steps have been taken to establish a regional department.
At its meeting last week, council officially welcomed one new officer, Brian Armstrong, and approved funding for another, a probationary officer. The department expects to have greater visibility, improved enforcement of traffic laws and new outreach initiatives in public safety and drug prevention with the new officers.
The department now has 11 full-time officers. At nine members, the department had been understaffed for several years, said Fabrizi.
Morus said the increase in personnel would be offset by savings on overtime costs and paid for in part by a federal COPS grant obtained in 1998.